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The rise of the conscious consumer

28 August 2019 Article by Susan Young


Oh how times change. Ten years ago, if you started talking passionately about climate change with your friends and family, you’d likely have been booed – or at least asked to pipe down. But over the past few years sustainability has become a global imperative, from eating less meat to saving energy or car sharing.

And there’s an overwhelming need for brands to step up in this space and drive environmental change. The team at Bauer Media recently came in to Chemistry for one of our regular Beers & Ideas sessions and shared some fascinating insights into ‘conscious consumers’.

Kiwis genuinely care about the environment

68% of Kiwis agree that climate change is the biggest problem the world is facing today – and most people think not enough is being done to protect the environment. We’re all trying to live more sustainably, but we’re struggling to make permanent lifestyle changes. There is a big opportunity for brands to actively champion sustainability and help conscious consumers change the world for the better. In fact, if your brand isn’t already helping them improve their environmental and social footprint, you’re in danger of disappointing them – and losing their custom.

Businesses are expected to do their part

It’s not just the government’s problem to fix. 33% of consumers in New Zealand believe that businesses are as responsible as governments for driving social change, and 83% of consumers agree that New Zealand brands need to become environmentally sustainable. Whether that’s cutting plastic pollution like Sky or helping people save water like Colgate, forward-thinking international brands are beginning to reflect the new environmental and pro-social values of this millennial-led world. 

Brands struggle to be heard and acknowledged

It’s still really hard for consumers to name a leading brand in sustainability. 7 in 10 can’t name any brands they consider leaders, and 83% say the way businesses talk about their environmental commitments is confusing (that’s an 11% increase year on year). Brands need to find a way to speak the language of the conscious consumer, facing up to problems and offering audiences a range of practical solutions.

Know and understand your audience

It all starts with creating healthy communities. This audience is extremely community conscious, and need to feel protected, respected and connected to your brand before they’ll place their trust in you. For example, 83% think there’s not enough information on products for consumers to access how sustainable they are, so garnering trust can be as simple as making labelling clear, or creating an online community where information can be shared.

Champion the power of good

So how can you use your brand power for good – and engage consumers along the way? The United Nations recently released a set of Good Life Goals, a set of personal actions to help everyone contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which offer an excellent guide for how to leverage your brand’s positioning and activity to help consumers live sustainable lifestyles. But whatever you do, ask yourself: how can my brand help consumers change the world for the better?